Why Do Scrap Battery Prices Fluctuate?

Christine LellisRecycling Batteries

Like the price of gas at your local gas station, the price of scrap batteries changes often — sometimes overnight!

These ups and downs might leave you scratching your head, but the fact is that price fluctuations are normal and recycling your used batteries is still worth the small effort no matter the current price.

While it’s impossible to accurately predict what scrap battery prices will do, it can help to understand the forces behind these swings. Our recycling experts have put together this guide to give you a basic understanding of why scrap battery prices fluctuate so you can make the best decision for your business.

Scrap battery prices depend on metal prices

Batteries contain metals such as lead, cobalt, and nickel that can be recovered during the recycling process. For example, over 70% of the weight of a lead acid battery is reusable lead! These metals can then be repurposed to make new batteries and other products. As a result, the price of scrap batteries depends on the price of the metals contained inside.

Market prices

On a global scale, metal prices are largely based on the London Metal Exchange (LME). The LME is the world trading center for industrial metals — you can think of it like the New York Stock Exchange, only instead of purchasing and selling shares a buyer buys or sells metals. More than 75% of the world’s non-ferrous metal futures are traded on the LME. The daily reference prices published by the LME form the basis of metal prices worldwide.

Economic conditions

Other economic conditions affect the market price of batteries. One example of this is tariffs on base metals such as aluminum and copper. In 2018, the U.S. announced tariffs that affected the price of goods including steel, aluminum, and some types of scrap batteries. Even the strength of the U.S. dollar can affect scrap prices.  

Supply and demand

On the state and local level, scrap battery prices are impacted by simple supply and demand. When there is a shortage or need for more scrap material, prices will rise. On the flip side, if there is an abundance of scrap batteries to recycle, prices will fall.

Industries that use base metals for production — such as the transportation, electronics, and construction industries — heavily impact demand. For example, copper is commonly used in the automotive and housing industries. When these industries are sluggish, the demand for copper drops and prices fall.

Seasonal changes

To a smaller degree, even seasonal factors can play a role in supply, demand, and scrap prices. Many of the industries that use base metals are affected by seasonal changes. For example, the construction industry peaks during the summer and slows down in the winter. These seasonal fluctuations can influence the demand for metals and in turn, the price of scrap materials.

How much are your spent batteries worth?

As you can see, there are many complex factors that determine the price of scrap batteries. But no matter what’s happening in the market, Battery Recyclers of America works hard to get you the most money for your spent batteries. Email our team or give us a call at (800) 508-6670 for a quote or to speak with one of our battery recycling experts!